Nope, we're not talking about your menstrual cycle, we're talking about your skin cycle
Our skin is constantly renewing. With this cycle of renewal comes a series of changes that present themselves in our complexion. You'll find that sometimes a good skin day transitions into a morning breakout, or perhaps yesterday's glow has disappeared overnight and in its place is a dull, flat complexion. These changes may seem unpredictable, but if you keep a diary, you'll find it goes through a fairly consistent cycle. Of course hormones, diet and environment can all contribute to some extra surprises for you but if your lifestyle is also fairly consistent, you'll see there's a flowing theme.
In adults, the skin cycle is on average 28 days. This is the amount of time it takes for new skin cells to be formed in the deepest layers of skin, make their way up to the epidermis, die and shed. It sounds like a mundane cycle but throughout their journey the skin cells begin new and juicy and tender, and as they journey through the layers, they mature and become stronger and more resilient, turning into the perfect protectors in the skin barrier. This process is crucial for our resistance to chemical or physical injury, our thermoregulation and protection against UV rays.
There are four stages of the skin cycle: dry, improving, glowing and oily. The amount of time the skin is evolving through these stages varies from person to person, but on average you can expect about 7 days of each. If you take care to identify your next dry stage then you'll be able to track your next skin cycle and in turn, treat it with the right type of skincare.
How to treat the stages of your skin cycle
Drastic changes are never good for the skin, so you want to keep your core skincare routine throughout the cycle but a few tweaks here and there will help aid the transition and reduce inflammation, acne and dryness.
Dry, Improving: During these stages extra moisture is always welcome. Using a moisturiser with a reasonable water content with additional moisturising oils like Rosehip, Jojoba and Safflower is a great choice. This type of formulation delivers extra hydration and locks it in. Adding in oil products like serums, either with or on top of your moisturiser, also help to hold moisture in the skin for longer.
Glowing: Our favourite stage, if only it lasted longer! This stage tends to have a little less oil, and gives you a tighter, brighter complexion. To maximise this, use a water/oil combination moisturiser, and treat skin overnight rather than with extra products during the day. Our new Nox Elixir is your ideal evening companion.
Oily: Applying an absorbing face mask during this stage will help pull out any dirt and surplus sebum which might foster bacteria and result in acne. Look for masks with high clay content as they're great for naturally absorbing dirt without being too harsh on skin. Using products with active ingredients such as Strawberry or Raspberry Seed oils, Camellia or Safflower will also help promote cell health and restore some of the balance to skin. Ensuring you have a gentle cleanser for a thorough clean before bed will help reduce the greasy feel and appearance common during this stage too.
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Throughout all of these stages exfoliating products, either chemical or physical, should be carefully administered. Over-exfoliating to reach the glowing stage can mean that younger skin cells reach the surface before they're matured; this can lead to skin damage and make you more susceptible to acne, irritation and redness.
As consumers of skincare we're often chasing the 'instant results' that are marketed to us by many cosmetics brands, but the truth is, it's almost impossible to achieve instant results. The incorporation of skincare products into the skin cycle has to allow time for ingredients to reach newer cells (at the beginning of the dry stage), and impact their lifecycle, before any kind of 'result' is seen at surface level. Just be patient!